A kugelhopf is a yeast leavened European caked. This recipe is filled with orange zest, almonds, spiced rum, and dried figs.
By Michelle McVeigh
A kugelhopf, or gugelhupf, is a yeast leavened cake usually filled with soaked dried fruit such as raisins or dates. I think it is Austrian, but also native to Germany and Hungary and it’s what inspired the American favourite – the bundt cake! I know what you’re probably thinking – but Michelle, why is the Great British Bake Off doing a European Cakes week? Isn’t that a bit redundant considering Britain is in Europe? Well, maybe. But one thing you should probably know about us Brits is we don’t really consider ourselves real Europe (I think some Brits like to think of us as our own continent sometimes!). Taking a day trip to France? You’re not just going to a neighbouring country, you’re going to “the continent” – it’s like we’re a little village on the outside of a big city! So when you hear Brits talking about “Europe” we most likely mean any European country that isn’t part of our Islands!
This cake was a bit of a challenge for me! This is my first time using yeast to leaven a cake and let me tell you, it’s made me appreciate baking powder a lot more! But this is the way they used to make cakes rise before such wonderful things like baking powder were invented, and Europe sure does love it’s traditions! My first attempt was a big failure, my dough just didn’t rise at all – I baked it anyway though to test the flavours and I ended up with a very dense, malt loaf kind of texture. The flavours were great though so at least I knew I had that part sussed. For my second attempt I tackled it from a different, more cake like way as the first time I treated it like a bread dough and mixed the ingredients as such. And it came out great!
As you might imagine, this cake has more of a fruit bread texture than a cake texture, but it is very light. It’s great eaten warm, fresh from the oven and would be yummy with afternoon tea. It’s also wonderful toasted and eaten for breakfast, it would be amazing with my cinnamon honey butter generously spread on it. This kugelhopf is stuffed full of orange zest and dried figs, the dried figs were soaked in orange juice and spiced rum overnight. I then saved the liquid from that to make a honeyed syrup that I cooked fresh figs and orange segments in to decorate the top, and poured the syrup over the warm cake. There were so many warm, yummy flavours coming from this cake – it’s a definite winner.
To bake this cake you need a Kugelhopf Tin or a regular bundt will do, that you generously grease making sure every nook is covered. Most people would then place flaked or whole almonds in the grooves at the bottom of the pan so they bake into the top of the cake, I decided to coat the entire pan in flaked almonds. It took more time than I’m willing to admit, but I think you’ll agree the end result was worth it!
- 200ml milk
- 85g caster sugar
- 85g unsalted butter, softened
- 400g plain flour
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 12g dried yeast
- 2 large eggs
- 175g dried figs
- 60ml spiced rum
- Flaked almonds for decorating(optional)
- 120g unsalted butter
- 240g clear honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- The liquid from soaking the figs
- 2 fresh figs, quartered
- 1 orange, sliced segments
- Roughly chop the dried figs and place in a bowl with the juice from the oranges and the spiced rum. Leave to soak overnight or at least a few hours.
- Warm the milk and 25ml water until lukewarm (in microwave or over stove).
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the flour, cinnamon, orange zest and and yeast (making sure the yeast and salt don't touch) and stir in.
- Add the warm milk mixture and the eggs, slowly beat together in your mixer until it comes together. Then increase speed and medium and beat for 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky and very stretchy.
- Turn the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1-1.5 hours, until doubled in size.
- Grease your tin and decorate with almonds if using, a few just along the bottom is great too!
- Drain the dried figs, saving the liquid, and fold them into the risen dough. Pour the dough into your tin and cover. Leave to rise in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 190C/375F. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make your honeyed figs and orange segments. Melt 40g of the butter in a large frying pan, add the liquid from soaking the figs, cinnamon, vanilla, honey and 60ml water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat.
- Stir in the figs and orange segments and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Remove cake from the oven and cool in tin for 5 minutes. Then turn out onto serving platter. Use a skewer to poke a few holes in the cake and spoon the honey syrup over the cake.
- Decorate the top of the cake with figs and orange segments and pour more syrup over the top and serve.
Keeps for 5 days in an airtight container in fridge.
If you want to make the cake alcohol free, replace the spiced rum with more orange juice and add a little cinnamon and nutmeg to the mixture
Michelle is a self taught home baker who loves to experiment with flavours and teach herself new skills in the kitchen. She is based in the UK but travels to Atlanta, GA often and bakes wherever she goes!